Deontay Wilder padded his unbeaten record and extended his string of stoppages on Friday by leveling former heavyweight titlist Siarhei Liakhovich with a first-round knockout in Indio, Calif.
Wilder (29-0, 29 KOs), 27, a chiseled 6-foot-7 prospect from Tuscaloosa, Ala., rates among the best young heavyweights in the U.S., but he had yet to face a notable opponent before meeting Belarus' Liakhovich (25-6, 16 KOs). Although Liakhovich hasn't won a fight since May 2010 and, at 37, is beyond his prime, Wilder's performance was impressive given the experience gap between the fighters.
After a feeling-out period, Wilder clipped Liakhovich with a glancing jab and barely missed on a right hand midway through the first round. Liakhovich backed into the ropes, where Wilder again threw a jab-right hand combination, this time landing the power shot flush on Liakhovich's jaw, sending him to the mat and setting off a brief but frightening sequence in which Liakhovich shook in spasms and emergency personnel rushed to his aid. Within moments, Liakhovich was lucid, sitting on his stool and communicating with his corner and fight officials.
The finish came at 1:43 of the round and was Wilder's second first-round stoppage in a row. No fighter has lasted beyond the fourth round against him as a pro.
On the undercard, junior middleweight Jermall Charlo (15-0, 11 KOs), of Houston, scored a second-round knockout against Antwone Smith (23-4-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Miami.
Charlo, 23, scored effortlessly with a sharp jab and countered effectively from the opening bell. After dominating the first round, he continued to outwork Smith, who might have exhausted himself trying (and ultimately failing) to make weight.
Late in the second, Charlo wobbled Smith with a hard right-hand counter, fluttered a quick jab and then dropped him with an overhand right. Smith rose on shaky legs, but the referee called off the fight at 2:23 of the round.